RANGOON — Sales of privately owned media were strong on the first day since new rules meant they could produce daily newspapers on April Fool’s Day.
For more than 50 years the press in Burma has been heavily censored.
An employee of Thida Nilar, a newspaper distributor in Rangoon, told The Irrawaddy sales of four newspapers—The Voice, Shwe Naing Ngan Thit, San Taw Chain and Pyi Htaung—went well yesterday.
“Demand was quite high,” said the Thida Nilar employee. “We ordered only 2,000 of each newspaper today and it wasn’t enough. We will get 1,000 more tomorrow.”
Naing Min Wai, a reporter with The Voice, said although the quality of Burmese newspapers is still low, they are in a good position to improve quickly.
“The paper quality, content and layout designs of the newspapers are not bad,” said Naing Mai Wai. “They have tried their best. Such quality is not bad at all considering the country is about 50 years behind others.”
According to domestic media sources, daily newspapers are on sale from 150 to 200 kyat (US 18 to 24 cents).
Tin Win, the editor-in-chief of Union Daily, told The Irrawaddy that his newspaper will be distributed free of charge until April 10. However, it will be on sale for 100 kyat (12 cents) from April 11.
Myint Kyaw, a Rangoon-based journalist, said the new daily newspapers are more or less the same as weeklies in terms of layout. They are also rather expensive for locals.
He added that it is premature to say whether the publication of private daily newspapers will affect weekly journals’ sales, because the latter still enjoys strong readership bases.
The Burmese government has approved 16 privately-owned daily newspapers. Those include dailies belonging to the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, and the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party.